Summary: Jesus teaches that He is from the Father and anyone who believes on Him has real life and not just ceremonial doctrine.
The Gospel of John is one of the most offensive books of the New Testament. And I think John knows that and he doesn’t try to hide it. It’s a book about division. It’s about grumbling disciples who can’t go with Jesus’ teaching and angry leaders who won’t stand for it. It’s a book that separates light from darkness and the righteous from the wicked. The sheep are made known from the goats. The religionists are made known from the real children of God. This is all made obvious by the way they respond to the truth. The truth is Light: the wicked hate it and the righteous love it. The righteous are doers of the word and not hearers only (Jas. 1:22). The wicked embrace enough religion for comfort or benefit but they are not truly “doers.” They are the fig trees without figs. They the wolves dressed up as sheep. It is not by their knowledge that we know them but by their works. By their fruit.
And John 7-12 is all about the Lord’s confrontations with the religious elite in Judea. He preaches truth and they prove their rejection and wickedness by their response: they want to kill Him. They make such a show keeping the little details of the Law that the weightier things like judgment, mercy, and faith are lost. They want to murder the man who healed on Saturday.
It’s now the Feast of Tabernacles; it’s a joyous celebration in Jerusalem. Jesus’ brothers go up without Him, but the people want to see Jesus. After about four days He arrives and makes Himself known:
Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. 15And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?
This sets up the tension for the rest of the chapter. This man who shouldn’t know anything seems to know everything. The Jews are blown away; He’s had no special teacher to show Him all this! But look at His response:
16Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
Jesus didn’t make this up. He’s speaking as one sent from heaven. This truth isn’t earthly truth or man-made truth; this is the truth of God.
17If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. 18He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.
This is an issue of the heart and of faith. Anyone who lives by faith wants to do the will of God. Anyone who is convinced in his heart will know true doctrine because it glorifies God and no one else. There is no unrighteousness in a man who glorifies God; this is just what Jesus has done and yet they want to kill Him for it. In this they prove their unbelief, their unwillingness to submit to God’s will, and their false doctrine; they are unrighteous.
19Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?